Innovations delivered by leveraging Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and many other disruptive technologies are enabling faster supply chain, efficient packaging, and therefore reducing waste while improving profits for food and beverage (F&B) companies. Let’s take a look at 6 areas in the F&B industry that are being impacted by these disruptions –
Supply Chain: Consumers demand greater information about the product and its supply chain. End-to-end visibility enables a firm in increasing its efficiency, lowering inventory, building brand loyalty and providing transparency throughout the supply chain. For improved visibility on quality standards, industry leaders are leveraging solutions based on technologies such as Blockchain, IoT and advanced analytics. “Farm to table” food tracking is one such solution which leverages Blockchain for Smart Contract to store information. IoT is used to capture product details (temperature, moisture, movement, etc.) during shipping and analytics are garnered for continuously analyzing all the data points and triggering an alarm for any deviations.
Production: The increased usage of IoT and robots to automate the entire production process is turning factories into “Smart Factories”. In a “Smart Factory”, all the components are interconnected and real-time data from these components are utilized to achieve maximum efficiency with superior quality. Real-time machine data also provides opportunities for predictive maintenance and production scheduling. Food and beverage companies can leverage advancements in 3D printing and smart sensing, to reduce their New Product Development (NPD) time. Since beverage companies need to maintain their products in specified conditions to retain the taste of the product, IoT based Smart Vessels and packaging helps them in achieving this.
Consumer Analytics: One of the biggest challenges faced by players in the food and beverage industry is the “Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) problem”. The presence of multiple product variants, flavors, different size packs coupled with varied demand in different geographies creates a humongous task for any firm to predict the SKU wise requirement for the geography. Companies are using ‘Shelf Sensors’, ‘Smart Bottles’, ‘Smart Labels’, ‘Open Source Drink’, ‘Make your own drink’, etc. to gather data and perform advanced analytics.
Inventory and Warehouse Management: The dynamic nature of the market compels F&B companies to integrate between customer demand, production and procurement. Low shelf life, high fluctuating demand and strict regulations provide very little scope for error in the food and beverage industry. An automated inbound material and outbound product quality inspection along with an automated stock replenishment and consumer demand-based production scheduling is the need of the hour for this industry.
Packaging & Labeling: The technological advancements in brand identity tools are now enabling firms to interact with their consumers and gather information. Printed sensors on any beverage can not only provide real-time data of its temperature, location and authenticity but also to communicate with consumers via Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. These labels can help food and beverage companies track their product throughout the supply chain to the consumption point.
Technology will continue to transform the food and beverage industry. With increasing demand for fresh, organic, healthy yet tasty foods and beverages, leveraging technologies such as IoT, Blockchain, AI and so on can only simplify the process and ensure improved returns for players in the industry. Automation and robotics to reduce production and simplify supply chain, sensors to enhance product experience and improved product mix with the help of analytics – these are merely some of the changes that technology and digitalization can bring to the industry.